Serendipity strikes again, finding The Wildcat en route to & from the Pleasance Courtyard every day for an Edinburgh Fringe run. We simply had to go in, and in, and in.
Opened in May 2021, The Wildcat is a suitably dark & moody style bar with a relaxed yet engaging hubbub – always enough people in to bring & maintain an atmosphere without ever being crowded, rowdy, nor stuffy & pretentious. Serving cocktails, beer, wine, and whisky, the up-to-date menus offer a thoughtful & varied selection of [mostly] single malt Scotch, grain, and world whiskies, all fairly priced, and with water & pipettes provided as a matter of course. What’s not to love?
What the Wildcat says: ‘the wildcat is a classic cocktail bar and locals haunt in the heart of Tollcross, run by two old school bartenders with a passion for good drinks and no bullshit‘.
For my [modestly-enthusiastic-about-whisky] friend, I order the Glendronach 15yo Revival, still a cracker – around the 86-87 mark – and still fairly priced even in these more cynical times. For myself, I couldn’t pass by the opportunity to try another of the Thompson Brother’s Dornoch releases, though I find their bourbon cask variants less convincing than other, more colourful, cask varieties. As it turns out, because I’m so behind on my note-taking, I’ve tried this one already [notes to follow in due course].
Dornoch 2018/2022 04yo Ob. cask #54 (btl #32/178) 55.5% (50cl) WB85.83
- N: Euro~gin-like, young/youthful Nc’nean vibes without the butyric edge, but with an aspirin quality. Add water for more [ferment] malty~milky straw/grassiness, plus citrus fruits.
- T: A pokey grassy-sweet yet savoury aspirin-y gin-like affair. Add water for more (dried) fruity chocolate Caramac.
- F: I find the more compelling aspects of this release at the transition end of the development, slightly textural – waxy grassy dry – and still a little pokey even with plenty of water.
- C: Whilst there are perhaps mostly academic pleasures here, it’s important not to transfix oneself on a new distillery’s early releases. What the brothers are doing at Dornoch and how they are doing it, is to be admired.
Scores 83 points
For my second dram, I fancied a Mortlach after spotting a handful on the menu. Of a quartet [including G&M’s 25yo], I was recommended the official 15yo Game of Thrones release.
- C: Crisp sharp and focused, high-quality malt if a bit dull/straight. Where’s Mortlach’s ubiquitous character funk? A safe release.
Scores 84 points
On our second visit, knowing my bestie likes the sweeter sherried style, I select for them an Aberlour. Avoiding the high-strength/CS A’bunadh, I plummed for the Aberlour Casg Annamh [WB], a new one to me. At 46%, it’s accessible and tasty, well-engineered quality gear. With a 50/50 bourbon/sherry ratio, or thereabouts, I’m seeing this as A’bunadh’s more affordable [even] younger sibling.
[Provisionally] scores +/-84 points
Meanwhile, I went for a smoky island dram.
Kilchoman 2016/2021 Ob. Madeira Cask Matured (17000 bts) 50% WB86.17
Delicious, unctuous, oily, coal/Creosote, soot,… savoury,… the madeira cask a perfectly behaved accompaniment. One dram of this per session is easily enough, but it’s one I’d certainly want to revisit. Great stuff, another Madeira-influenced winner. On a side note, if you haven’t tried Madeira, let alone a flight, what are you waiting for? It’s quite an insight.
Scores 87 points
The cocktails at The Wildcat are fabulous too. We tried:
- Shake ‘N’ Make: Maker’s Mark, Italieus, Sipello, Lemon, Kumquat Jam
- Hotel Cuba: Rum Blend, Apricot, Pineapple, Grenadine, Absinthe
- B. L. T: Ford’s Gin, Strawberry Lime Sherbet, Chamberyzette, Lime, Rose Water, Tonic
- Pineapple, Pineapple, Pineapple: Plantation Pineapple Rum, Sapin, Pineapple & Sage, Black Walnut Bitters
Also advertised ‘£5 negronis forever and always‘.
You’ll find the Wildcat on Tarvit Street, Edinburgh. Opening times are 4pm – 12am. Wholly recommended.
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